Online competitor analysis can often involve different businesses than you might be facing in the real-world competitors. As physically there may be two or three stores or service providers close to your town, but when you go online, there may be other online providers of that service or product that you’ll be competing with instead of those locally.
Also, sometimes the local service or product providers don’t have a web presence, which is excellent news if you’re trying to separate yourself from those other providers in your area. This is why is it so important for a couple of reasons.
It is essential because you need to know what works, so if somebody is doing well, you can see the kind of things that they tried to implement. Also, have a look at areas where they are failing, and you can do better.
You can also see the kind of links and the different ways that they get traffic, and maybe that gives you ideas into avenues you haven’t yet thought about before.
Furthermore, with back-links, maybe there’s a directory or a product line that is linking to your competitors and helping their online presence. It would be straightforward to inform them that you also provide this service or distribute their product and ask for a back-link as well.
Therefore, it is essential to see what other people are doing so that you can learn from their time, investments and experience. You can also learn from their mistakes or opportunities that they have missed.
Have they done something technically wrong? Is there a mistake that they’ve made which, if you get right, will help you so that you should have an advantage over them?
Just like in every other area of marketing it’s not so much about beating your rivals, but learning from them and continuing to do so. To see how the environment and culture change along with your sector.
Another important consideration when it comes to your online opposition is whether they are direct competitors or even competitors from a different area. Maybe they are a separate entity entirely.
For example, perhaps they write a blog about your service. Maybe they specialise in reviews.
Also, if your product was strawberry flavoured Marmite, maybe some businesses are also selling strawberry flavoured Marmite, but maybe one of the top websites is a blog or a site based around a community that adores strawberry flavoured Marmite.
Perhaps they write about it, talk about it, they take pictures of it, and they share things about strawberry flavoured Marmite. As a result, when people search for anything to do with strawberry flavoured Marmite they are a top site and are also an online competitor because you rank for the same keywords.
It might be easy to dismiss these as they are not selling the product, but there’s a lot to learn.
What kind of language do they use? What do they enjoy so much about strawberry flavoured Marmite? How do other people respond? What keywords are they ranking for? Are there ways that you can work together? Maybe there are ways that you can advertise.
So how do you go about carrying out this kind of research? The first thing is apparently to google the things that you think will be your keywords. Take a look at who ranks on the top page and where you rank as well.
You can take things a little bit further with some free tools that are available, but these are limited and often technical.
One suite of tools that we find very successful charts the rankings across all keywords over a sustained period, so that you’re able to see who and what goes up and what comes down and you’re ready to link that with changes that you or your competitors have made.
There are more specific tools which offer a vast array of technical details which we use to track and assess a range of data from referral websites to how much people are paying for ads or making from organic search, depending upon how much you need to learn from the real trendsetters.
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